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Us 20, Chris Christie 15, U.s. 14, Clinton 10, Syria 8, United States 7, Ukraine 7, Washington 7, Ben Affleck 6, Christie 5, Russia 5, Minnesota 5, Arizona 5, Michele Bachmann 4, At&t 4, Crimea 4, Cnn 4, Afghanistan 4, Fbi 3, Obama 3,
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  CNN    The Situation Room    Traditional reporting and online  
   resources update international news.  

    February 26, 2014
    2:00 - 3:29pm PST  

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jake, thank you. happening now, russian troops shifting warplanes, on alert near the board we are ukraine as pro and anti-russia clouds clash, ethnic tensions threatening to explode. chris christie joking about his political troubles. terrorists rushing an airplane cockpit. the chilling video dramatizes just how quickly it could happen. why some are arguing that post-9/11 security measures still aren't enough. i'm wolf blitzer. you near "the situation room." the fbi had a source inside al qaeda with direct access to osama bin laden eight years before the 9/11 attacks. the "washington times" reports
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the source learned what bin laden was looking to finance attacks inside the united states and that the information helped foil a plot against a target in los angeles. let's bring in our national security analyst, the al qaeda expert, peter bergen, who actually met with bin laden back in 1997. pretty explosive indications here. the fbi was sitting on a source close to bin laden but apparently never shared that information with all the committees investigating what happened. >> yeah. it's extraordinary, wolf. think about literally hundreds of thousands of man and woman hours that went into the 9/11 investigation. this seems like an important thing the commission should have known. the u.s. government was aware that bin laden was a problem in '93. we know that already. the state department issued a report about him. but this kind of -- you know, the idea that they can cite a source inside his inner circle is unusual. >> when you met with him years
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later you had no clue the u.s. had a source that was planted inside. >> i would have been deeply surprised. you know, very hostile to westerners, to americans in general. the question is we don't know who this source was. it's not clear from reporting if the source was in afghanistan, was he insaudi arabia, it's not clear. >> it's coming to light now because of an obscure legal case that all of a sudden this information is coming to light. >> you know, thinking about it, 1993 bin laden was living in sudan so my guess is the source would have been in sudan. there are number of people i know who have either been indicted or have been of interest to u.s. authorities who might kind of correspond to this source inside al qaeda at that time. >> very sensitive information, obviously. all these many years later osama bin laden is dead, we know what he organized on 9/11, but it's still i guess indicative if, in fact, they didn't share this information, the fbi, with all
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the congressional committees investigating all the supersensitive outside committees that we're investigating, that's an embarrassment to the fbi. >> yeah. i mean, you know, there's plenty of embarrassment to go around. the cia didn't tell the fbi about people that were associated with al qaeda inside the united states before 9/11. and if those names have been known, they could have been detected. but the fact is is that this sort of changes our view a little bit of how -- actually, i think the big story here is an attack in 1993 that was averted in los angeles, because of this source, i mean, to me that's extraordinarily interesting news. >> yes. very interesting. quickly, you have a piece you just posted on cnn.com on terror levels and threats that are out there right now. and you're suggesting what? >> well, you know, i mean, i think there's a tendency to hype the terrorist threat in certain circles. sochi, a lot of discussion. >> going into the winter
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olympics. >> yeah. reason to be concerned. but, you know, it went very smoothly. and i think it's not the only example where we have seen sort of dire predictions of things that just don't happen. usually people say the sky is falling and it doesn't fall, nobody really holds them to account. much easier to say things are sort of okay rather than saying the sky is falling all the time. >> important article you posted on cnn.com, peter. thanks very much. >> thank you. >> the russian combat troops, they are now on high alert as president vladimir putin ordered surprise war games right on the doorstep of ukraine. it's the latest disturbing fallout from the violent upheaval in ukraine and it comes as thousands of pro and anti-russian demonstrators take to the streets in ukraine's southern region of crimea, and where russian bases its own black sea fleet.
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frederik pleitgen is on the ground for us. tell us what's going on. >> reporter: hi, wolf. yeah, there's a big russian population here in the peninsula, and a lot of those russians want crimea to be part of russia rather than ukraine. that's why you had this massive demonstration today where both sides faced off against each other. take a look what happened there. there. when tensions fly this high, there's very little room for debate. thousands of pro-ukrainian and pro-russian protesters faced off on the peninsula, an area with a substantial russian population. the question, should it remain ukrainian or join russia? crimesashgs a ukrainian territory, this man says, and all the demands handed to russia are totally baseless. on the pro-russian side, a very
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different view. crimea should be russian, he says, in russia there are many cultures and they all have rights. in ukraine, languages are banned and marginalized. a line of police and local leaders tried to keep the two sides apart. the situation here shows the deep divisions in ukrainian society. on the one hand, you have thousands of pro russians and on the other thousands of pro ukrainians. right now they're screaming at each other, there's pushing and shoving but no violence yet. a large russian population in southern ukraine fears they might suffer under the new leadership in kiev, but the russian language and russian culture might be banned. and some are taking the law into their own hands. as we drove past the many russian military bases near the garrison town, we saw this -- a pro-russian militia manning check points together with local
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police, who are clearly not local to the government in kiev. the men had an armored vehicle. they didn't let us film. we took these pictures with our cell phones. the militia answers to this man, the new mayor, elected sunday in a vote the central government says was illegal. many here hail him as a champion of russian interests. he says his new force is an anti-terror unit. "because there is great danger, we are finding an anti-terrorist center that will coordinate all of our security forces." fear, uncertainty, and anger are drive manager people in ukraine out into the streets these days. they feel these are decisive times and may determine the future of their nation. >> as you can see, woman, a lot of fear, a lot of anger, and of course always the danger that all of this could get out of handle. and then of course there is that
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specter of perhaps russia getting involved if things get worse here. wolf? >> as you know, fred, ukrainian authorities have ordered the breakup of one of their elite security police forces accused of randomly shooting into crowds in kiev. we're now learning that many of these police units, they're moving into crimea, where you are right now. how significant is that? >> reporter: it is very significant. as you said, that force was disbanded on tuesday by this new interim president. and now what's going on is this mayor that you just saw in that report, he says that he's actually willing to continue to pay those people. he says he's gotten money from somewhere. he didn't say where he'd get it from. he was going to continue to pay them. when those forces came from kiev back to the region, they were cheered by the people there. certainly they will have to face any repercussions and there are some people who want to actually still keep that force alive. one of them is that new separatist mayor there in the town. so very charged situation right
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now. that is certainly something that the central government in skooef not going to let happen, wolf. >> be careful over there. we'll check back with you. thank you. up next, chris christie cracking some jokes act his own political troubles but the democrat he beat in november says christie's troubles could end his career. and just ahead, a chilling video dramatizes just how quickly terrorists could actually breach an airliner cockpit. is the video realistic? no matter how busy your morning you can always do something better for yourself. and better is so easy with benefiber. fiber that's taste-free, grit-free and dissolves completely. so you can feel free to add it to anything. and feel better about doing it.
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scandal. half of them. while the other half know how to keep their frigging mouths shut. >> seth meyers had some town at chris christie's expense last night but chris christie today shrugged off a new poll showing troubling signs for his potential possible 2016 white house hopes if they still exist. dana bash has been looking at this part of the story. dana, what do you see? >> this is chris christie's 111th town hall since he's been governor. certainly a lot. it was an hour and a half of vintage tell it like it is chris christie. it was easy for him to do that, though, since the people who asked the questions steered clear of the scandal that's plagued him. >> reporter: a town hall in the part of new jersey where his political career began, and chris christie got a question about traffic. >> traffic lights, especially at the holland tunnel. >> reporter: about the holland tunnel, not the g.w. bridge scandal. >> i can't speak to the holland
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tunnel lights but i'll look into it. >> christie still has a respectable approval rating in new jersey, 50%, but it's plummeted 20 points since this time last year when it was a sky-high 70%. in a new national cbs/"new york times" poll ranking potential gop presidential contenders christie stands out but not how you'd like. more republicans think he should not run than should. 41% opposed, more than anyone else. perhaps he saw that before saying this. >> the only two professions in america where you keep getting paid even when you're always wro wrong affect my life every day -- pollsters and weathermen. >> reporter: the only reference to his political problems was a constituent plea not to let it distract hip. >> you cannot allow it to distract you from the core job you've been elected to do and i will not let that happen so, don't worry about it.
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he may have avoided a tough scandal question because he picked the questioners. he did admit he's a discerning politician. >> you will recall that was the woman raising her hand from the beginning. something told me to stay away from that. >> reporter: the toughest question from a 10-year-old girl about education. >> he called her up, creating a moment. >> did you type this? tomorrow. just by coincidence. i'm meeting with the commissioner of education. so i'm going to make him answer this. >> reporter: this was all about christie trying to reclaim his straight-talking persona that made him a different and appealing politician. >> my job is to be the adult in the room, to tell you folks the truth about what's going on. >> now, as part of his promise to tell the truth, krissy reminded constituents that he is now in his second and final term
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as governor, the back nine as he put it, and that means he does not have to worry about politics anymore. a christie aide i talked to afterwards emphasized he was talking about new jersey politics. he didn't mean to have any kind of comment on presidential politics. >> dana bash, thanks very much. >> thank you. joining us now the former majority leader of the new jersey senate, senator barbara buo buono. she lost in her bid to become the governor of new jersey to chris christie. senator, thanks for joining us. >> thanks for having me. >> i want you to listen to what chris christie said today at the town hall meeting about his future in politics. listen to this. >> i'm not worried about politics anymore, everybody. this is it. i'm on the back nine. and when you're on the back nine and you don't have to worry about playing another front nine, your only obligation is to tell people the truth. >> how do you interpret that comment? >> well, i'd be interested to
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see what the question was. obviously he's embroiled in everything he says is really shaped by the scandals that his administration is engulfed in. you know, whether it's the nixonian dirty tricks associated with bridgegate or allegations of extortion with regard to sandy relief funds, i think the governor is very interested in addressing those issues even though he's making it appear as though he's not. >> his aides say he was talking about being finished with politics in new jersey but not necessarily nationally if he were to run, for example, for the republican presidential nomination. do you think he has a future as a potential republican presidential candidate? >> look, this is a -- i'm not a political pundit, but i will say this. this is a man who really never wanted to -- never planned to serve out his full term as governor of new jersey. he was using it as a platform to run for president of the united
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states. in fact, when he was running it seemed like almost a sure thing. and now that it's become a pipe dream -- i mean, if you look at his budget address yesterday, it reflects someone who has almost given up. i mean, i've almost felt like i was back in college listening to my political science professor, a sermon on what was wrong with 40% of the speech talked about the public employee pension system. but he offered no solutions. >> you tweeted yesterday, and i'll put it up on the screen, you tweeted mab it's just me, but chris christie's delivery of budget address seemed like he sensed it would be his last. his last means he'll be out in a year? is that what you're saying? >> you know, i think it's entirely possible. but if you look back at his election night speech, back then it was a different chris christie. he talked as if he had big plans. he said, you know, i didn't seek a second term to do small things. i sought a second term to get the job done. and so just watch me do it. and yet we had a speech
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yesterday where he really outlined the issues facing new jersey with pension, meeting our obligations regarding our increased debt load that he contributed to, and yet again he offered no solutions. he talked about -- he equated new jersey to detroit suggesting if he we did nothing we could head down that road of bankruptcy, yet he offer nod solutions. i think what we're seeing here is an administration that was really built upon an outsized cult of personality that's coming tumbling down before our eyes. >> do you believe him when he says he knew nothing about the closure of those lanes going to the george washington bridge? >> well, what i believe is irrelevant. it's what, you know, the people of new jersey believe ultimately. also through the u.s. attorney's office is handling that, and i think that one thing is for sure, this governor has lost all if not most credibility. back when -- a year ago when
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anything he said, everybody believed it regardless of whether or not there was any validity it to, now, you know, he's lost any credibility, so that anything he says, nearly everything he says is not believed. that's why he hasn't even proposed his pet project of an income tax cut. i mean, that's something that requires a lot of belief, a lot of credibility that new jersey can actually afford. he didn't even mention it. and that's something that really appeals to his base. >> you heard from a whole bunch of prominent democrats only after your defeat in that election for governor of new jersey, whether it was the vice president, debbie wasserman schultz, the chair of the dnc, all these democrats, they basically did -- and correct me if i'm wrong -- nothing to help you beat chris christie. do they owe you an apology? >> i think it was a miscalculation on their part. i think people were taken in again, by his cult of personality, but even if you didn't buy into the fact that i could win, which i believe i could have, the fact that there
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was -- these issues were out there. my campaign drew attention to the fact that this administration was bumbling distribution of sandy funds. we didn't have the money to go up on tv as much as we needed to communicate that message, but we had a very robust online presence and we brought attention to that. the issue with respect to the bridgegate, that was in early september. you know, when the two debates that i engaged in with the governor, i drew attention to that, the unexplained -- at the time the unexplained lane closures over the g.w. bridge and unfortunately no one was willing to take this governor on just then. >> yeah. congresswoman debbie wasserman schultz, chair of the dnc, showed up at the end of your campaign. hillary clinton didn't show up, joe biden didn't show up, vir chilly no one came in, didn't really raise money for you, did injure actually nothing to help you try to beat chris christie. is that fair? >> essentially, but you sound like you're reveling in it. >> not reveling in it. just looking back and i'm
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wondering if it might have been different if you would have had some support from some of your the fellow democrats. >> there's no question. it was a matter of resources. back in august we lopped ten points off his lead in the polls without spending any money because people were focused on the election. you know, i had a call from one of the political bosses in september saying to me, you know, barbara, i can't tell you who told me this but the internal polls are closing, and i said i know that, i knew that was going to happen when people started focusing on the issues. he said to me too bad you don't have money to go up on tv and, you know, make sure that people know who you are. and i said, you know, that takes money, so on the same polls that showed that this governor was popular with respect to sandy relief at the time, they also showed that people disagreed with him on all the issues, whether it was creating jobs, whether it was social issues. it was a matter of communicating that to the people of new jersey. because they're smart. they want to know who's running against chris christie. and unfortunately we didn't have
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the resources to convey that. >> senator buono, thanks for joining us. >> thank you. coming up, a chilling dramatization of just how easily terrorists might still be able to storm an airline cockpit. i'll talk to the woman behind the video. we'll discuss what she's asking congress to do. [ park sounds, sound of spray paint ] ♪ we asked people a question,
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the schedule picking up steam and targeted by potential republican rivals. brianna keilar is in south florida where hillary clinton has been today. brianna, what's the latest? >> reporter: well, wolf, as we speak, and we're here not far from miami, secretary clinton is in orlando giving a speech on health care. she's trying to really look forward. she's talked a little bit about health care saying that there needs to be a full evidence-based debate. s she's talked about applying fixes to health care reform, but she's really trying to push
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forward, take focus away from some of the republican attacks recently, the latest of which has to do with documents that should have been released a year ago pertaining to her husband's presidency. we understand those will come to be released, some of them, anyways, very soon. but hillary clinton is here in florida trying to get her message out as she will here at the university of miami in a couple hours. it's only 2014, but the likely presidential candidates are jockeying for position. >> when women are excluded an marginalized we all suffer. >> reporter: hillary clinton spoke about gender e equality tuesday at georgetown university as she ramps up her public schedule. she has a sizable lead among democrats and republicans eyeing the white house are taking aim. >> i think hillary clinton will struggle to win on multiit will fronts. >> marco rubio slammed her tuesday for the attack on
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benghazi, libya. it claimed the lives of four americans including ambassador chris stephens, while she was secretary of state. >> they should have either closed that facility or provided adequate security. they did not under her watch. i think she has to answer for benghazi. >> reporter: and jeb bush. >> of course it matters. >> reporter: responding to the testimony gave after the attack. >> was it because of a protest or guys out at night deciding to go kill americans? what difference at this point does it make? >> four americans lost their lives. it matters. it matters a lot. >> reporter: kentucky senator rand paul has tried multiple times in the last weeks to make bill clinton a liability for his wife. >> he took advantage of a girl that was 20 year old and an intern in his office. there is no excuse for that. and that is predatory behavior and it should be something we should bt want to associate with people who would take advantage of a young girl in his office. >> reporter: it's red meat for conservative voters with intense
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animosity for hillary clinton. >> she's still an incredibly polarizing figure, and attacking barack obama is a great way to fire up your base if you're a republican, but attacking the clintons is almost as good if not better. >> reporter: clinton has even factored into a republican primary. >> secretary hillary clinton. >> reporter: one gop opponent of south carolina, senator lindsey graham, is running this ad that features him hugging her. but for now clinton is trying to stay above the fray. >> we believe this is the unfinished business of the 21st century, giving women the tools and resources to break through the barriers that keep them from contributing to fully participating in their governments' economies and societies. >> reporter: now here at the university of miami, students are already lining up a few hours ahead of clinton's speech to get inside. faculty and staff will also be in the audience. and, wolf, she's here on the
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invitation of do that shalala, who, as you are well aware, was the health and human services secretary under her husband, bill clinton. of course the big question is what is hillary clinton going to talk about here tonight? her staff is playing that very close to the vest. we don't actually know. so we'll be waiting to see. >> we'll find out together with you, brianna. thank you. turning to texas now, the latest state to have a federal judge strike down a ban on same-sex marriage. the ruling won't be enforced pending appeal meaning gay couples for the time being still can't get married in texas. the decision is the late nest a series of federal and state moves to overturn current laws preventing gays and lesbians from marrying. the attorney general eric holder has urged state attorney generals to be suspicious of any such legislation. meantime in arizona there's mounting pressure on jan brewer to decide whether to sign or veto a bill passed by the state legislature allowing businesses to refuse service to gay customers based on religious
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convictions. cnn's anna cabrera is on the ground for us in phoenix. tensions clearly very high right now. what's the latest? >> reporter: the voices are growing louder primarily in the opposition of this bill that would allow businesses to refuse to serve gays and lesbians based on their religious beliefs. we do know the governor just wrapped up some meetings with state lawmaker, people from both sides of the aisle. that happened within the last half an hour. we're told the conversation was respectful, that it was productive, that the governor listened intently, trying to understand each side and also asking questions about how arizona ended up in this mess. but we e still await a decision as the voices of opposition continue to grow. i'm anna with cnn. is governor brewer available? arizona governor jan brewer spending the day behind closed doors. >> private entrances. >> reporter: her state and the nation waiting to learn what she's going to do with a bill that would allow businesses to
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refuse service to gays and lesbians based on relationous beliefs. supporters say it would ensure relationous freedom. but opponents argue it will lead to discrimination. the governor says she wants to understand both sides and set meetings with state lawmakers today. representative ethan gore, one of three house republicans who voted against the bill, is is one of them. when you meet with the governor today, how do you expect things to go? >> i genuinely believe she's going to keep her own mind and err own council, but i don't believe she would be sitting down with us unless she was going to veto the bill. >> senator steve yarborough who co-sponsored the bill hopes to convince the governor otherwise. >>ly tell her basically what the bill does, what it doesn't do, and that it has been extraordinarily distorted as to, you know, the whole struggle that it's been made up to be when it's really not about that at all. will i be successful? who knows. >> reporter: the governor's last public comment on the issue is
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this tweet overnight saying, "ai sure you as always i will do the right thing for the state of arizona." meantime, the calls for action are growing louder. hundreds have come to the capitol to protest. high-profile politicians like john mccain and mitt romney have called for a veto. and big businesses have publicly condemned the bill, including apple, american airlines, delta, at&t, and intel. even the nfl is watching this closely with next year's super bowl scheduled to be played in arizona. lawmakers close to the governor tell us she really likes to keep her cards close at her vest, and so at this point it's anybody's guess as to when she'll make her decision. wolf? >> got to make that decision by saturday. anna, thank you. up next, the chilling dramatization of just how easily terrorists could potentially still storm an airline cockpit. i have low testosterone. there, i said it.
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terrorists rushing a cockpit, a dramatization showing how quickly it could happen. it underscores what some say is the urgent need for a secondary barrier on top of the reinforced cockpit doors which were mandated after 9/11. trying to jump-start a bill languishing in congress that would require those barriers. renay marsh is working the story for us. >> aviation security is no doubt a talker on capitol hill today. the video you're about to see is making its way around town. the woman behind it is a 9/11 wid widow. she produced the video with the help of airline employees. they're trying to show lawmakers
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a hijacker can overcome the flight crew and penetrate the cockpit. she claims in less than two seconds. here's the video. as disturbing as that video was, it was a dramatization. the food cart, which is used to block the cockpit, it seems to disappear at one point, presenting no obstacle at all. so we can't necessarily take it as fact that this is an accurate depiction of how easy it is to get into a cockpit. the video was shot and produced on a plane that was parked. no passengers were on board. that said, we introduced you to the woman and her crusade last march. since 9/11 she's been fighting for legislation that would require airlines to install
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secondary barriers. you're looking at what that looks like. they are gates outside of the cockpit doors, and the idea is this barrier would create a second line of defense for pilots during the seconds that the cockpit door is open when a pilot leaves to use the restroom or even to receive food. now, her husband, victor, he was a captain of united flight 175, which crashed into the world trade center. a bill mandating these barriers was introduced in the house last april. another bill introduced in the senate last september. she has support, 54 co-sponsors in the house, and today with the video you just saw she's hoping to convince senators to sign on. wolf? >> what does the tsa have to say about this? >> well, we eno that the tsa believes this should be a decision left up to the airlines as to whether they will install these barriers. but they said in a statement that tsa applies a layered risk-based approach to security. that means hardened cockpit
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doors, armed pilots, crew self-defense training as well as air marshals. >> rene, thank you. let's talk about this video. why did you decide to do this? >> because nobody is moving quick enough. it's 13 years later. and we seem now to have airlines -- we had one airline, united airlines had installed these secondary barriers on a lot of their aircraft. now the merger happened between united and continental, the new ceo has decided to remove the secondary barriers from the oncoming aircraft and it sets a dangerous precedent. we have our airline companies that are minimally complying with what is recommended by the tsa for procedures and by removing the secondary barrier the only thing that is prove on the protect the cockpit during those times when the door is open, if that is being removed from the aircraft, we have no form of protection during that
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time. >> and you don't think that beverage cart that they placed in the aisle over there and the flight attendants stand behind it while the pilot walks out, they go to the lavatory, whatever, and then they close the door, you don't think that's good enough? >> well, you tell me whether that's good enough. that was just depicked. that's the most robust form of protection that the airlines have. and the cart did not disappear. the cart was pushed over. the carts are top heavy. they are easy to move. that cart was pushed over and so was the flight attendant by one of the intruders, and the second intruder just went right into the cockpit. >> basically what you're saying is when they saw the pilot walk out they stormed that cart and just ran over the cart and got into the cockpit? >> absolutely. study results showed 100% time cockpit was protected once the secondary barrier was installed and up. but using the most robust form of protection that the airlines have, which is the cart and the
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flight attendant, the cockpit was able to be breached in under two seconds. >> and who prepared this video for you? walk us through the process. >> well, the faa requested and commissioned the rtca to do a study. it involved the faa, the tsa, airline companies, boeing, security experts, the cia, the fbi. this study is now complete and came out with these results. moving forward, we have gone and now we need legislation. the legislation has to happen because none of the airlines are complying with the best method in order to protect the cockpit and through legislation we're hoping to make sure that the cockpits get the appropriate barriers. >> in memory of victor, your husband, a pilot of 9/11. >> yes. and 2,973 others who are not here with us today. >> ellen, thanks for coming in. >> thank you. >> ellen saracini, doing important work. just ahead, a kennedy on
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trial. rfk's daughter, carrie kennedy, testifying in her dui case and getting drilled by prosecutors. we have details of the mistake she says led to her accident. to manage your money. that's not much, you think except it's 2 percent every year. does that make a difference? search "cost of financial advisors" ouch! over time it really adds up. then go to e*trade and find out how much our advice costs. spoiler alert. it's low. really? yes, really. e*trade offers investment advice and guidance from dedicated professional financial consultants. it's guidance on your terms not ours that's how our system works. e*trade. less for us, more for you. [ female announcer ] most of the time it's easy to know which option is better. other times, not so much. so it's good to know that mazola corn oil has 4 times more cholesterol blocking plant sterols
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a dramatic day in court for the daughter of the late senator robert f. kennedy and the ex-wife of new york governor andrew cuomo takes the stand in her dwi trial. telling jurors she mistakenly took a sleeping pill the morning her car swerved between lanes. >> this is actually in many ways
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a small case, but because it is connected to the kennedy family, it is getting big attention. >> how are we feeling today? >> pretty good. >> kerry kennedy's legal team showed up in court acting like the charge against her is no big deal. the case is simple against the 54-year-old niece of president kennedy and daughter of the late senator robert kennedy. prosecutors say she was driving drugged in 2012 when her lexus sideswiped a truck, kept going and was found by the side of the road with kennedy incoherent behind the wheel. on the stand, however, she said what she's claimed all along, that she accidentally mixed up prescription medications. >> i told the officer that it was theoretically possible that i had mistakenly taken an ambien rather than a thyroid pill earlier that morning. >> reporter: kennedy's connections have drawn tremendous attention to the case. in the audience, her friend
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diane neal, an actress who used to be on "law & order." and ethel kennedy. the lawyer is famous for his famous clients including michael milk milken. she's also the wife of andrew cuomo. still on the stand prosecutors pounded her asking how she could not realize she took the wrong pill? how could she claim she remembers nothing from the accident. you've taken this pill for ten years, a prosecutor said, and you can't tell me whether or not it makes you feel tired? i guess i really don't feel about how i'm feeling when i take it, she replied. i take it, then i'm asleep no one was hurt in the accident. in the worst case she could lose her license and spend up to a year in jail. >> for a misdemeanor, not a
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felony. >> but a serious misdemeanor. >> our legal correspondent jean casarez was inside the courtroom before kennedy's testimony, she's joining us now. what did you see inside? what was it like, jean? >> it was an amazing dynamic. the courtroom stood still, as it always does, when the defendant was called to the stand. but in this case, as she takes the stand, her character's put at issue and she can talk about all the good things she has done. and she's an advocate for human rights. she's the director of the robert kennedy center of justice and human rights. she really is a jet setter. last week she testified and she turns to the jury and just starts to tell them that she was in france last week, she met with john kerry. she then went to brussels, belgium, and met with the director of parliament and it went on and on. but then as far as the facts of this case because this is a dwi case, not a case about human rights and all the good she has done, she talks about she had
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both bottles side by side and she now believes that she took the ambien, but she said she just doesn't remember at all when she veered off the road. and the prosecutor is trying to combat this mistake of fact by saying, you took the pill for ten years, you do know that it has some effects. you start to feel drowsy when you were at your apartment. you could feel the drowsiness, and she would not admit that because they're trying to show that she had knowledge she was getting sleepy, something was happening, and she still went out and took the wheel and continued to drive even when she veered off the side of the road at one point. >> you would think that since no one was hurt in this accident, it is a misdemeanor, the two sides could work out some sort of deal that would avoid this kind of spectacle, this kind of trial that's going on right now. >> you know, that's so interesting because there is a lesser included here, which is really sort of like a traffic citation. now maybe that wasn't offered by the prosecution, maybe she
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didn't want to accept it. she got visibly frustrated on the stand when the prosecutor continued to say, but you did not feel anything? no, i never felt an effect from ambien. i'm just out when ambien hits me. there were inconsistent statements she made after this all happened that she believed it was something medical with her brain that had happened, a type of seizure, but then she retracted that. she said at one point to the judge, judge, can i talk to you a minute, can i ask you a question? this is in front of the jury and the judge said, no, you have to answer the questions. we are in court. this is a working class jury. as they heard about the jet setting and just the lifestyle that she leads, how will that affect them because this is a dwi case? but it was fascinating, as she said, my father was killed as he was running for president. daddy was the attorney general. it really is testimony you just don't hear in court.
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>> it really sounds like it. jean casarez reporting for us. just ahead, like something out of a spy thriller. how it helps some wealthy americans dodge billions in tax taxes. ♪ every now and then i get a little bit hungry ♪ ♪ and there's nothing good around ♪ ♪ turn around, barry ♪ i finally found the right snack ♪ [ female announcer ] fiber one. go! [ male announcer ] it's chaos out there. but the m-class sees in your blind spot... ♪ pulls you back into your lane... ♪ even brakes all by itself. it's almost like it couldn't crash... even if it tried. the 2014 m-class. see your authorized dealer for exceptional offers through mercedes-benz financial services. see your authorized dealer for exceptional offers
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happening now, grave danger. the story behind a disturbing new image from syria. and a new warning that the country is a terrorist trainig ground posing a direct threat to the security of the united states. plus, is america ready for a woman to become president, as hillary clinton takes center stage, i'll ask a inform presidential candidate, congresswoman michele bachmann to explain her remarks suggesting voters aren't clamoring for a woman in the oval office. ben affleck is here in washington. we'll hear what he's telling the nation's power players and whether he's making a difference. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room."
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an extraordinary image, powerful and heartbreaking, sent out by the united nations today. it shows countless residents of a devastated syrian city gathered as far as the eye can see waiting for food handouts. now as syria sinks deeper into chaos, there are growing concerns that terror groups there will export their violence and send their foreign fighters back home to attack the united states and other countries. cnn's chief national security correspondent jim sciutto has been looking into this for us. he's got the latest. >> reporter: wolf, this is really the starkest warning we've heard from u.s. officials on syria. it's part of a broader narrative about the evolving terror threat to the u.s. the bottom line, that threat is becoming more diffuse. you have offshoots of al qaeda, home grown terrorists in the u.s. and now with sear yarks veterans of that war, some of them americans, to return home to carry out attacks. >> thank you for the opportunity to be here.
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>> reporter: today america's top homeland security official said that syria may be the most serious terror threat to the u.s. homeland. >> i would say that for us in national security and homeland security in this government, this particular issue is t the top of list or near the top of the lis for us. we talk about it all the time. we're carefully monitoring the situation. >> reporter: syria's brutal civil war has provided al qaeda-tied terrorist groups the perfect combination of violence and lawlessness. train and plan attacks targeting american interests at home and abroad. and crucially the war has been a magnet for thousands of foreign fighters. u.s. officials believe many are now being recruited and trained to carry out attacks when they return home. more than 50 of them are believed to be americans.
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>> as we see more and more jihadists pouring into syria for the fight in the rebel forces, who have been now infiltrated by al qaeda affiliates, it's becoming one of the largest training grounds now in the world. >> reporter: the looming threat from returning foreign fighters was highlighted this week when a briton and former detainee at guantanamo bay was arrested in britain on suspicion of attending a terrorist training camp in syria. following his release from gitmo in 2005 he'd been a leader of a vocal campaign for the rights of terror suspects, many of whom, himself included, he said, have been wrongfully imprisoned. >> people say, oh, isn't that place closed? obama said it was going to be closed. no, of course, it's not. >> reporter: begg is now back in prison as police investigate whether he could be an alarming number of syrians.
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they're calling it politically motivated saying, quote, we're disgusted that begg is being retraumatized by the same guilt by association accusations that resulted in his unlawful incarceration in guantanamo bay. they say he was there for humanitarian work. there was one more word from jeh johnson that the boston bombings may be a sign of the future, a real fear not just of fighters returning from syria, but so-called lone wolf attacks here at home, wolf. and that's really the issue. it's a diffuse threat coming from so many directions, creates new challenges for our homeland security officials. >> all very, very frightening. a giant international bank is now apologizing for helping a wealthy american clients dodge billions in taxes. congressional investigators say bankers at credit suisse used cloak and dagger tactics that sound like something out of a spy thriller. brian todd is up on capitol hill
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with the details. >> reporter: wolf, top officials at this swiss bang hadk had a l tough questions to answer. they helped thousands of rich americans skip out on their taxes to the irs. and they used some pretty creative cloak and dagger to do that. an elevator with no buttons operated by remote control whisking clients to secret banking rooms. a wealthy customer hiding a quarter million dollars in pantyhouse wrapped around her body on flights. this isn't a crime thriller. this what a senate report says switzerland's second largest bank was doing to help rich americans hide their accounts from the irs. >> you don't want to be in the dirty business any longer of helping u.s. clients cheat on their taxes. >> reporter: big wigs of credit suisse were grilled before a senate subcommittee. the report found between 2001 and 208 credit suisse held more than 2,000 accounts for rich
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american customers totaling up to $12 billion. nearly all the accounts never reported for tax purposes. >> you can have a bank account, it just can't be a secret bank account. >> reporter: but secrecy was an obsession. there was the swiss banker, who according to the report, traveled to the u.s., had a discreet breakfast meeting with a client where he handed the client bank statements hidden inside a "sports illustrated" magazine. to entice rich americans to do their banking in switzerland, the report says, credit suisse set up a special office at the zurich airport. clients could fly in, service their undeclared bank accounts, then fly out or hit the ski slopes. >> so it really didn't mean much that you had an office right there in the zurich airport? >> it was really an office, where as you say, an office of convenience. >> it certainly was. >> for clients that would come in, but basically they held relative small amounts of money. >> reporter: quote small amounts most of us couldn't dream of.
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between 30,000 and $70,000 per account. credit suisse officials say this was all done by a small group of bad bankers. they say they'll get to the bottom of it. but so far the bank has handed over 230 names out of those accounts. why? >> is the swiss government going to prosecute you if you comply with our laws and turn over those names? are you going to be prosecuted? is that your fear. >> yes. >> that's your fear, that the swiss government. >> reporter: now, to all the fingerpointing at the swiss government for its secrecy law, an official tells cnn, hey, don't look at us. there's an amendment to a swiss/american treaty calling for the two countries to share more information about bank clients that evade taxes. that amendment is now held up, blocked in the u.s. senate where all those tough questions were asked today. >> brian todd up on capitol hill. a powerful story indeed. congresswoman michele
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bachmann is live here in "the situation room." she's suggested a lot of americans may not be ready for a woman president. i'll ask her about that and more. and "argo" star, the director, ben affleck. he goes inside the real life halls of power here in washington. ♪ ♪ ♪ ben! ♪ [ train whistle blows ]
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wiintroducing cardioviva:ext for 160 dollars a month. the first probiotic to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels without a prescription. cardioviva. president obama went to a train depot in minnesota today to talk about investing in transportation and infrastructure and how that would create a lot, a lot of jobs. he had some tough words for republicans in congress. >> there have been some
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republicans in congress who refuse to act on commonsense proposals that will create jobs and grow our economy. partly it's not that they're -- i guess they don't like roads. they just don't want to pay for them. and you know, it doesn't work that way. you got to come up with a way to get these projects going. >> let's bring in a republican from minnesota, congresswoman michele bachmann is here in "the situation room." why won't you do what the president wants you to do, help pay for those new roads, infrasfrur and get the job done and create a lot of jobs? >> like so many things the president says, it's just not true. we are paying for roads and bridges. i'm very proud, probably the two greatest accomplishments during my time in congress we built the longest unfinished bridge project in the history of the united states and we're expanding the interstate highway 94. >> in minnesota. >> in minnesota, i'm extremely proud of getting that done. >> but there's a lot of infrastructure that needs -- >> sure, we need it.
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>> schools, hospitals. so many people e-mail me, they tweet me, they say, why are we spending so much money on infrastructure development, for example, in afghanistan, when we should be spending that money in the united states? >> that's exactly what we need to do, spend about a trillion dollars in afghanistan nearly that much in iraq. we need to put that money into roads and bridges here. >> the two wars in iraq and afghanistan were a u.s. blunder? >> that requires more than just a yes or no answer, and let's have that conversation some day. for now, we do need to build roads. we do need to build bridges and i'm all for it. >> remember that bridge that collapsed in mississippi -- excuse me, minnesota. >> i-95. >> that bridge was rebuilt? >> yes, the good news is it was rebuilt in one year's time. the reason it got up so fast was we waived all the regulatory burden and just got the thing built. they came together and said
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let's do that with every project out there, let's get them built. >> you agree with this? >> i'm not just for spending money for the sake of spending money, let's put it into bridges and roads that will prove products. >> don't build any bridges to nowhere. >> that's right. >> you suggested a lot of americans aren't ready for a female president, saying this, and i'll put it up on the screen. i think there was a cachet about having an african-american president because of guilt. people don't hold guilt for a woman. i don't think there's a pent-up desire for a woman president. i'll give you a chance to explain because it caused a little bit of a buzz. >> no, i'm thankful for that because i had the experience, obviously, i believe a woman can be president. i ran for president of the united states. but pi lived through the experience. there are some americans who just aren't ready for a president. it's a small distinct minority. >> democrats and republicans? >> democrats and republicans.
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there are some people who just don't think -- >> how did you because at one point going into the iowa caucuses you were atop the field with cover stories in "newsweek" and "new york times" sunday. >> i won the iowa straw poll. i'm the first republican and only republican woman ever to win a presidential contest, i'm very proud of that. it shows that a woman can win. and the overwhelming number of americans have no problem with electing a woman, but the fact remains there are some, but the main thing is people will be willing to elect a woman for president. i don't think it will be hillary clinton who will be our first woman president, but i do believe there will be a woman president. >> when? >> it could be in 2016, if we have a conservative that will run. >> why don't you think it will be hillary? >> she has serious challenges to overcome. she has to answer the question of being fit to be commander in chief. does she have experience? absolutely, and she has the qualification, but she has a very serious hurdle because when
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the time came for her to demonstrate ability as a commander in chief, she failed that test. she didn't see the run-up to what happened in benghazi, despite giving warnings over and over throughout that year in 2012. during the event, our understanding is that she didn't request that the defense department would come relieve what the individual were under. she was continuing the false narrative that it was a video that caused the problem. but also obama care will be an issue. remember, she's the godmother of obama care. >> during the bill clinton administration it was a different health care but. >> that's right. >> let's talk about a republican woman. >> she'll be the third term of barack obama and that could be trouble. >> a republican woman elected in 2016? who? >> if there's a republican woman out there. >> who? >> no one is making the moves to say they might run. we don't have that right now. it's very early.
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i hope we don't spend the next two years focusing on who the nominee would be, because the country would be better if we have a conversation and a narrative about what we can do to fix our problems as a country. >> a woman to run for the president of the united states. >> we have excellent republican govern governor. mary fallon in oklahoma, susan martinez, we do have candidates out there including republican women who are members of congress and the u.s. senate and women who are prominent in business. we have a number of candidates, any of whom would serve us very well. >> what do you think the governor of arizona jan brewer should do with this legislation passed by the state legislature that the supporters say is a religious freedom piece of legislation and the critics say it gives an opportunity to discriminate against gays and lesbians. >> i think what we need to do is respect both sides. we need to respect both opinions. just like we need to observe tolerance for the gay and lesbian community, we need to
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have tolerance for the community of people who hold sincerely held religious belief. >> she shouldn't veto that legislation? >> i don't believe she should. >> won't that open the door for less tolerance for gays? >> just the opposite. this is a decided legal of intolerance, it's effectively eviscerating the rights of freedom of speech, expression and religious expression for the people of arizona and it sets a terrible precedence. >> les beans won't be able to get services like all other americans, that's discriminatory against them. >> we need -- again, we need to respect the gay and lesbian community and they need to have access to services. >> but if they're treated differently than other americans, that certainly isn't respectful. >> but remember we're treating people who hold sincerely held religious beliefs differently than other american either. this isn't one side or another. what we're talking is tolerance on both sides. it is not tolerant to force
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people to violate their religious beliefs. >> i think you're going to be disappointed because i think, i think she's going to veto. >> it looks like she may veto it, but i think that will prove to serve us not very well in terms of tolerance in the united states. >> there's a lot of tolerance. americans are very tolerant people. and there is religious freedom. >> this is not tolerating people's religious beliefs. we need to do that. >> michele bachmann, thanks for coming in. >> thank you, wolf. just ahead, celebrity day up on capitol hill. you'll find out what the actor seth rogen was promoting to members of congress. his is the cat that drank the milk... [ meows ] ...and let in the dog that woke the man who drove to the control room [ woman ] driverless mode engaged. find parking space. [ woman ] parking space found. [ male announcer ] ...that secured the data that directed the turbines that powered the farm that made the milk that went to the store that reminded the man to buy the milk that was poured by the girl who loved the cat. [ meows ] the internet of everything is changing everything.
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a-list hollywood actors brought their star power to capitol hill today. ben affleck and seth rogen testified about causes they care deeply about, the crisis in the congo for affleck, alzheimer's for rogan. what are celebrities like these bringing to the witness table? jake tapper takes a closer look. >> reporter: they may wear suits just like everyone else who approaches those tables, papers in hand and a cause for which to advocate. but let's be clear, folks like these are not giving your average congressional testimonies. >> that's wonderful. >> reporter: from the ridiculous to the impassioned. >> i just may run for office. >> reporter: to the downright distracting. >> i became the goodwill ambassador. >> reporter: when celebrities come to washington, the media and the politicians take notice. but does the spectacle of the
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star outshine or shed light on the cause they've come to promote? >> often hearings in congress are not about members of congress learning something that they don't already know. it's performance art. if they wanted to really learn about issues, they could get it from a briefing book. >> reporter: today oscar winner ben affleck arrived in washington to speak about the crisis in the congo. >> just a pleasure to be back here in the real state department. i had to fake it for "argo." >> reporter: the "argo" director has brought his cause to the table time and time again. >> my name is ben affleck. fought on congolese soil. i'm working with and for the people of eastern congo. >> reporter: and a few marble pill ars away the actor seth rogen testified about the effects of alzheimer's which his mother-in-law suffers from. sure, these appearances bring some buzz, but ultimately does anyone remember why stephen
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colbert testified before congress or elton john? or does anyone remember that they did with the cause lost in the flash of camera lights? truth is that's up to the celebrity's commitment to the cause and the journalists covering them. to be completely candid, congo and alzheimer's would not be mentioned on my show today without affleck and rogan, telling some stories without obvious news events is tough to do. water shortages in developing nations got our attention last year in part because of matt damon's involvement. you attaching yourself to this means i will be sitting here interviewing you, talking about an issue i probably wouldn't and people at home, viewers, will be paying attention to an issue that they wouldn't otherwise pay attention to. >> yeah, that's the hope. >> reporter: affleck's co-friend co-founded water.org. and george clooner is a longtime advocate for peace in sudan, even getting arrested outside the embassy in 2012. >> i think we all individually
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felt that if cameras were going to follow us around, why not, why not make something good out of that? >> celebrities the bring attention to an issue, especially in that issue is not the sexiest issue. to get ben affleck involved, all of a sudden it's a little more interesting. >> reporter: that's somethng most politicians have known for a while. jake tapper, cnn, washington. >> i want to thank these celebrities for doing what they're doing because almost all of these causes are extremely important. that's it for me. remember, you can always follow what's going on on twitter, tweet me @wolf blitzer, you can tweet the show @cnn sit room. "crossfire" starts now. tonight on "crossfire" -- what's more important? protecting freedom or preventing discrimination? >> it's not about gay rights or gay